December 22, 2011

The Pregnant Yogini: Being Jekyll and Hyde.

We all have moments and days when we feel less than perfect. Our exterior persona is stripped away to reveal a somewhat less likeable version of ourselves – our Mr Hyde, if you like.

While I’ve been pregnant I’ve had more of these moments and days than I care to think about. One moment I’m doing well, with a smile on my face and a warm and fuzzy heart. The next moment I’m a blubbering, teary mess. Or worse, I’m a slightly crazed over-reactor who snaps at the nearest unsuspecting victim.

I had one of these moments (a very long one, it seemed) on Saturday. Things started okay. Then suddenly they weren’t. I was crying uncontrollably; literally for hours. My husband was confused. So was I. So I blamed it on the hormones: “Sorry darling, it’s just the hormones doing their thing. I’ll be back soon”.

What I’ve noticed is the frustration and resistance that come along with these outbursts. I don’t want to feel that way, thank you very much. I’m much happier when I’m, well … happy. I’m sure that this frustration and resistance of my feelings compounds the whole situation. So it got me to thinking: do I have to fight  my Mr Hyde? Or can I just let him run his course?

I resist these feelings because I want control. I want to control myself and my surroundings so that everything is roses; everyone happy with a smile on their faces. How completely unrealistic. Sometimes we just aren’t happy and that’s okay. The question is, when we feel this way, how do we come to a place of acceptance rather than one of resistance?

My pondering about all of this has brought me to two pieces of yogic wisdom: (wo)man’s tendency to categorise and see things as polar opposites, and the concept of vrtti svarupya, or identification with thoughts.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali makes the point that the human mind tends to polarise things (Sutra 1.5). We say: this is good/bad, I like it/I don’t like it, I’m happy/I’m sad, this is pretty/that is ugly, I like this better than that. Think about it for a moment – is there anything that is truly neutral?

With this in mind, I’m trying to take a step back from my mood swings and see them as simply an occurrence without a label. Sure, I certainly want to avoid hurting anyone in my emotionally charged states, but I also need to find a way to make what I’m feeling ok – not wrong.

Vrtti svarupya is (wo)man’s default position – one where we identify with the thoughts that tumble and jumble in the mind. We have a thought – I’m a moody person – and we believe it to be true. We have another thought – this must make me a bad person – and we believe that one too. This pattern keeps going – no one will love me if I’m a bad person, there’s nothing I can do to control this, I’m useless, I’m hopeless, and on and on ad infinitum.

What’s the alternative? An awareness that we are not our thoughts. A realisation that thoughts are just thoughts, not a true reflection of reality. We can come to a state where we ‘witness’ the movements of the mind, rather than getting caught up in them and buying into their apparent truths. We might get started on a slippery path of despair-ridden thoughts but then we stop, take a moment to witness what’s going on, and say to ourselves, “Hey, that’s just a thought. Well, hello there”. Suddenly the thoughts aren’t controlling us – we’re just watching them run their course.

Of course, all of this takes practice. It’s natural for the mind to race and for us to believe in all the things it conjures up. One thing I have great confidence in is the promise that pregnancy and motherhood will continue to bring Mr Hyde to the surface, so I’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice.

Related Articles:

The Pregnant Yogini: From Headstands to Headaches.

The Pregnant Yogini: I Worry So I do Yoga.

The Pregnant Yogini: The Halfway Mark.

The Pregnant Yogini: Every Experience Is Unique.

The Pregnant Yogini: The Mystery of Labour, Birth and Life.

The Pregnant Yogini: Perfection, Please.

The Pregnant Yogini: Multitasking and To Do List Mayhem.

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Erica Webb  |  Contribution: 2,300